It's Your Sunday Rundown!
It's another week in our Mad-Max-starter-kit world, and it's time to check-in on this week's Sunday show stupidity -- mainly on CNN's "State Of The Union" with Jake Tapper and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar.
Jake Tapper to Alex Azar: Why was the US hit harder by coronavirus? www.youtube.com
Tapper began by asking Azar about people returning to crowded places, and refusing to social distance or wear masks for "freedom," as fears of a surge of new cases rise. Azar answered this in a way that suggests he's setting the stage to blame the sick for their lot in regards to COVID-19:
AZAR: I think, in any individual instance, you're going to see people doing things that are irresponsible. That's part of the freedom that we have here in America. We can give guidance, as the surgeon general did. Part of this is going to be, if you're in crowded areas, and if you're in an area that has ongoing spread of community -- community spread of disease, there are steps you should take.
See, the problem with that answer is the same as the problem with anti-vaxxers: They are making personal health decisions that affect the community. If these conservative fuckheads wanted to spread COVID only between themselves to enjoy Golden Corral buffets again, no one would care. But the problem is, they have to interact with the rest of society and potentially spread this to people who have been responsible citizens. The "personal responsibility" crowd never wants to take responsibility for the consequences of their choices, but this time it could literally be the death of us all.
Anybody got a line on some polio?
With the daily increases in coronavirus deaths and Donald Trump's escalating meltdowns, it's easy to forget there's also a presidential election going on, or would be, if things were normal, which just reminds you again how non-normal all this is. But while Trump continues lying about the fantastic job he's doing, Joe Biden is busily doing what presidential candidates are supposed to do: getting ready for the fall, and, he hopes, getting read to president come next January.
And as the dual health and economic crisis has played out, it's starting to look like Joe Biden, Mr. Moderate, is thinking about all the things that will need fixing if he defeats Trump (provided Trump doesn't launch the entire US nuclear arsenal at coastal US cities), and is inclined to do some serious Franklin D. Roosevelt, New Deal-style responses to get America back in shape. As reporter Gabriel Debenedetti puts it, Biden's original centrist pitch, a promise of a return to the pre-Trump norm, seems "almost moot" now.
And so suddenly Joe Biden is talking about far bigger plans than his "first day" goals of rejoining the Paris climate agreement, issuing executive orders to put ethics back in government, and pushing for the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ rights. Now he's talking about big government spending on green energy and infrastructure, payments to families, student loan forgiveness, and the like. He's consulting regularly with Elizabeth Warren and Jay Inslee, and talking about creating "a 100,000-plus worker Public Health Jobs Corps and the doubling of the number of OSHA investigators to protect employees amid the pandemic." And isn't that some neat stuff!
But just think how great the economy will be!
The New York Times reports today that even while Donald Trump is urging states to "carefully" cast aside public health measures so the economy will be all better in time to get him reelected, his own administration
is privately projecting a steady rise in the number of cases and deaths from the coronavirus over the next several weeks, reaching about 3,000 daily deaths on June 1, according to an internal document obtained by The New York Times, nearly double from the current level of about 1,750
Here's the relevant chart from the full briefing document:
That sounds pretty bad, at least until you remember that people die all the time, that the old and the frail are a drain on the economy, and it's not like Americans have ever made big changes to our way of life just because 3,000 people died in one day. We could go on about the possible lessons of a day when 3,000 lives were snuffed out, but the 9/11 memorial museum is still closed because of the virus.
Because the 9/11 memorial hates our freedoms, probably.
Sean Hannity has never downplayed coronavirus, not once.
America, Sean Hannity has HAD ENOUGH of the dishonest media's unfair treatment of him. So he hired a lawyer, the famous Gawker-destroying Charles Harder, to send a nastygram warning the New York Times it had better retract three opinion pieces that supposedly defamed Hannity by opining that he had downplayed the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic. And if they didn't retract? Consequences would never be the same. The 12-page letter accused columnists Ginia Bellafante, Ben Smith, and Kara Swisher of all sorts of horrible libelslanders, saying the columns were part of an "ongoing campaign to personally attack Mr. Hannity by mischaracterizing and making false statements with respect to his coverage of the coronavirus pandemic."
For good measure, Harder also complained the paper had disregarded statements by "Democratic Party politicians and Democratic Party-friendly media outlets" which he said had also minimized the pandemic. WHAR BILL DE BLASIO? WHAR NANCY PELOSI DANCING ALL OVER CHINATOWN? WHAR ANDERSON COPPER? [sic] And in a real blaze of seriousness, Harder even wondered why the Times hadn't jumped all over Dr. Anthony Fauci when he supposedly "minimized" the threat in interviews in January and February, by saying the virus was not a widespread threat at that moment. (Fauci carefully pointed out that was subject to change if the virus spread.)
The Times, to its credit, replied it had no intention of retracting the columns or apologizing, in a letter that might not reach the rhetorical heights of Gen. Anthony McAuliffe's "Nuts!" note or the Cleveland Browns' "Some asshole is signing your name to stupid letters." But 'tis enough, 'twill serve.